Last Week we discussed how having an electronic newsletter for your ministry provides many benefits, and even listed a few categories that can get you started in delivering the information your community and congregation would need to know in order to build momentum and mobilize your ministry. This week we take the conversation further and I’ll list a few vetted software providers that will help you in turning your thoughts into action.
In order to send an electronic newsletter you need to sign up for a software provider that allows you to send one email to multiple recipients at once. If you were to send such an email from your mailbox on Outlook, Google, AOL, Yahoo, etc. chances are your mailbox account would be shut down and considered unlawful. The reason for that is because people need to give you permission to mail them en mass. When you violate this permission-based law of internet communication (it actually is a law, by the way, called CAN-SPAM) then you put your communication, and reputation, at great risk.
There are many low-cost and even free options for you to get started though, and many software providers will even let you build a list of up to 1,000 people and you can mail those people for free before you have to pay a dime. Depending on how fancy you want to get with the newsletter you may be able to use a free service for the life of your account, or if you really want to have a lot of connection, marketing, segmentation and reporting you can use a paid service.
Paid services generally start at $15 per month. The most popular service however is not always the BEST service in this instance. There are even some service providers that specialize in ministry-based marketing. I’ve set up lots of clients to do email marketing (the official name of this type of communication) and know there are pros and cons to them all. My recommendations below are based on ease of use, customer service and reputation. I could easily provide 10 companies that you can investigate here, but for the purposes of this blog I want to keep this simple. If you want to have a conversation to see which of these, or which service not listed here, may be right for you, just schedule a quick chat with me. It’s that easy!
1) Mail Chimp: Mail Chimp is usually my first recommendation when someone wants to start a newsletter but not pay any out of pocket fees until they know how they are going to commit to this email marketing effort. They allow you to have a list of up to 3,000 people, and you can mail that list 6 times in one month. They place their branding and logo in your email, and some basic reporting and list creation features are not included at this level, but it’s a good place to get your feet wet. Also, for churches you get a discount if you upgrade to the paid service.
2) Constant Contact: This is one of the most popular email newsletter providers. They have great templates and customer service, and chances are if you’ve received an email from business providers before you’ve received one delivered by Constant Contact. They have a free trial, and after that you pay according to the number of subscribers you have. One caveat to Constant Contact, in my opinion, is their lack of robust list separation and form development. But if you’re just looking for a simple way to add people to a list, and you don’t want to be limited in the number of emails you send, Constant Contact is the way to go
3) GetResponse: After using a different service for years I recently switched to GetResponse because I felt I was being raked over the coals with a previous providers. Get Response blows me away. Yes, they have some cons, but their pros far outweigh all the others. They make creating your newsletter easy if you don’t know coding but still want a fancy, visually stunning email (the type that gets opened more) and their reporting tools are top notch.
Your homework this week is to look into each of these providers and determine which, if any, is right for you. If you need someone to bounce some ideas off just give them a call and get a feel for how their customer service treats your requests. If you want to get help creating your church’s newsletter I’m here for ya. It’s my mission and my pleasure!
P.S. Share your thoughts, newsletters and mission in our comments below. Let’s do this thing together!